Microsoft CEO responds to employee criticism of company’s contract with ICE

.. The contract being criticized by Microsoft workers is for the Azure Government product, a cloud-based service that Nadella said in his memo only supports ICE functions such as mail and document management. “I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,”

.. He said Microsoft’s “engagement with any government has been and will be guided by our ethics and principles.” He slammed the administration’s border policy, calling it “simply cruel and abusive.”

Russia Finally Gets Its #MeToo Moment

The #MeToo moment has arrived in Russia. It took months longer than it did for many other countries that often take cultural cues from the United States. But, considering the near-total obliteration of public space under President Vladimir Putin, it is perhaps surprising that it has arrived at all. Russian media are almost totally controlled by the state; the social networks consist of genuinely disconnected bubbles. Still, a highly public conversation about sexual harassment and assault has finally begun.

.. During the course of the last four weeks, several women, including journalists who work in the Duma—the Russian parliament—have come forward with stories of being harassed and assaulted by a prominent Duma member, Leonid Slutsky, who is the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The women’s accounts were published by TV Rain—a once thriving independent television channel that is now almost exclusively online—and on the Web site of the Russian service of the BBC. The BBC Russian Service correspondent Farida Rustamova published the transcript of an audio recording in which she tried to resist Slutsky’s advances.

.. In the days following the publication of Rustamova’s story, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova—ordinarily no friend of journalists from opposition media—spoke about having been harassed by Slutsky herself. The politician’s pattern of harassment thus became a matter of officially sanctioned public record. The journalists who had come forward, meanwhile, filed formal complaints with the Duma; on Wednesday, the Duma ethics committee took up the issue.

.. On the one hand, nearly half of the Russian workforce is female. The Soviet Union was probably among the first countries to ban sexual harassment: a 1923 law introduced penalties for men who used a woman’s financially or professionally dependent position to coerce her into having sexual relations. At the same time, sexual harassment is common and often blatant. (Four years ago, for example, another prominent Duma member, the head of the misnamed Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was caught on camera directing one of his aides to “go rape” a pregnant Duma reporter who had asked him a question.)

.. The TV Rain producer Darya Zhuk then told the story of being harassed by Slutsky four years ago. When she was finished, Arshba said to her, “Your emotional statement has no factual value.” In conclusion, the committee voted to take no action against Slutsky.

.. In response to the committee’s decision, Russian media outlets began, one after another, to pull their correspondents from the Duma. As of Friday, thirty-six outlets had joined the boycott. It was an extraordinary occurrence. The Duma is effectively an appointed body that rubber-stamps the Kremlin’s legislation. The overwhelming majority of Russian media outlets are either directly and openly or indirectly but still relatively openly controlled by the Kremlin. But now the fake parliament and the state-controlled media were engaged in what looked like real conflict.

.. The Russian Duma has approved the annexation of Crimea, has enabled wars in Georgia and Ukraine, has rubber-stamped laws that fuelled the persecution of dissidents and queers—and much of this legislative action involved violations not only of human rights but also of norms of decency and of legal procedure, such as it exists in Russia. Why, then, would allegations of sexual harassment be able to break a compact between the authorities and the journalists?

.. Perhaps because, unlike the wars and the political persecutions, the harassment is part of the journalists’ own lived experience.

.. In this case, Russia provides an illustration of both the limitations and the power of the politics of lived experience: it does not guarantee solidarity, political empathy, or even decency, but it can rouse people to action when all else has failed.

Go ahead and #DeleteFacebook. But here’s the change we really need.

But what’s really scary is that it didn’t have to hack into anything to get it. Facebook was designed to collect all that info and handed it over without policing how it was being used.

.. But Facebook isn’t like other products you boycott.

.. We don’t buy products from Facebook — we are its product. We’ve given it our information for free. And in North America, we were each worth $26.76 to Facebook in the fourth quarter of 2017.

.. Facebook became America’s fifth most-valuable public company (worth about $490 billion as of Wednesday) by selling advertisers highly targeted access to us. It takes data about what we and our friends do and then combines that with data from other places to make all sorts of inferences about us.

.. Even if you don’t like Facebook, you might still need it to stay in touch with your mom, your second cousin or even your boss. They’d have to quit, also — and all their friends, too. Many people rely on Facebook to sign in to other websites, dating services and other apps.

.. There aren’t great alternatives, either. Several of the most popular other social apps in the United States — Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp — are also owned by Facebook. People peeved at Facebook’s data practices have tried making new services, but none took off.

.. Aside from a dramatic change of heart from founder Mark Zuckerberg, getting Facebook to reform what data it collects and how it uses it requires destabilizing its business. And that boils down to this: Making Facebook an unreliable or expensive way for marketers to reach us.

“The only way the boycott will be effective is if it creates enough reputational damage that regulation becomes a reasonable option or if advertisers leave en masse,”

.. . But turning that into laws is a long, slow process. Not even last year’s massive Equifax hack got lawmakers to act.

.. The world will soon get one kind of control from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which requires more transparency from companies about the data they collect and how they use it.

Federal Trade Commission may also step in and fine Facebook. It happened to have an agreement in place with Facebook from 2011 that holds the social network accountable for incidents where its data gets shared without members’ explicit consent.

.. argument is that policing data is more than just a Facebook problem, so we need an independent agency (beyond the FTC) to deal with it.